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Bardos
December 11th, 2004, 03:10 PM
I generaly write in Greek, my mother language. But, for the heck of it, I decided to translate a very short piece of writing in English, to see how would it be. So, I'd very much like to read your opinion on the flow of the language, grammar, etc. Please don't pull any punches.

Here's the translation.


The campaign had failed, and he was responsible for it. Tragically mistaken, he had led his army into the claws of the enemy, and all his warriors were killed. Twenty thousand of them. But he bad lived. His head-wound hadn’t killed him, and he had dreamed strange dreams, to awake in front of a nightmare: the bodies of the slain, the broken weapons, and the blood that had soaked the mountainous earth. His head hurt; he thought someone had driven nails into his skull. But he could not return; not with this shame weighting heavy on him. His archam would be, forever, tainted before the gods. Black, like vomited belly-blood.

Stumbling in his daze, he passed between the flesh-eaters who were munching on the dead soldiers, and traveled in the wilderness. The moan of the wind was the only music for him; a music torturous as the sight he had laid eyes upon when he woke, the sight that wouldn’t leave his mind. For he wasn’t strong enough; after the doom wherein he had led his warriors, his archam had lost all its power; his will was crushed, his resistance crumbled. The Soul-devourers descended mercilessly on him, and the gods couldn’t save him from their bite. It was his fault; the gods protect only those whose archam is strong.

But, then, he found the Serene Place, and there he dwelt. In this place, near the trees, the rocks, and the spring, the Soul-devourers couldn’t visit him as often as before; something kept them at bay. And here he stayed, seeing strange dreams, that never in his life had seen before – dreams of peace and fulfillment – while a bear kept him company. When he first saw the animal, he wasn’t scared, although something from inside told him he should have been. But, in the Serene Place, the bear couldn’t be enemy. It advanced towards him and leaked his hand, and it stayed with him. They hunted together, ate together, slept together, talked together, and it never fell in winter’s sleep; indeed, the Serene Place seemed not to be affected by the seasonal changes. How long was he here? He couldn’t say; it was, simply, impossible to do so.

MrBF1V3
December 12th, 2004, 12:55 AM
Don't pull any punches? Are you kidding?

Okay, here goes. . .

Translating from one language to another is never an easy thing, as you know, and translating to be understood is much easier than translating for artistic reasons. Having said that, I would start by saying that I could follow the setting and situation of what I was reading withougt having to think about it. Good job.
There were, however, some details which actually had more to do with grammar (or editing) than content. In the first paragraph, " Twenty thousand of them." isn't a complete sentence, nor is, "Black, like vomited belly blood." You need verbs.
Try to aviod starting sentences with "But" or "And".
Someone once told me that you really are not fluent in a language until you can abuse it properly. Some of the rules you can break, some you can ignore.
Hope this helps.
B5

TheEarCollector
December 12th, 2004, 07:13 AM
Now to pull punches on MrBF1V3!

For starters, it's grammar ;)
"Twenty thousand of them" might not be a complete sentence, but writers are allowed to break the rules in the pursuit of art (Don't believe me, read anything written by Emily Dickinson, alright it is poetry... read anything by Hemingway... Now I have all bases covered). Perfect grammar isn't what writing stories is about, it's using, and sometimes abusing, the language into a way it can be read that suits your purposes. You can have a short fragment if you like (but then again, don't do it too often).

I am going to have to agree with the "and" and "but" thing though, it's fine in some cases but it just isn't working for me in anything here...

That and watch the semicolon... though it may be properly used here, a lot of people are scared and confused by the semicolon in writing because they have never seen it. A lot of people will accuse you of putting them there because of Microsoft Word too...

Anyways, I personally think that translating a story is much like giving a summary - You get what the story is about but it can never be the same. Something will always be lost in the translation.

MrBF1V3
December 12th, 2004, 05:03 PM
Thanks for pulling your punches. ( . . .and letting me keep my ear).

I cannot disagree with anything you said, I am lost without my spell checker and I know it. It is my opinion that incomplete sentences should only be used when the action is understood, or for effect (which is often the same thing). Complete sentences. It's not the law. But not a bad idea. ;)

I remember doing translation when I was in school, and I stand in awe of anyone who is willing do it.
B5

Pluvious
December 12th, 2004, 06:15 PM
Its not the shortness just the "them" part. Try something like "twenty thousand altogehter" or "twenty thousand strong". But mostly I would say the whole thing is a bit wordy.

Instead of "The campaign had failed, and he was responsible for it" you might try "The campaign failed. He was responsible." No need for the rest. I would use that as a guideline for the rest of what you have here.

TheEarCollector
December 12th, 2004, 11:10 PM
Translations are a hassle, you have the luxury of translating your own work (so you can tweak it in the new language). Unfortunately, many times we find translations decades, if not centuries, after a writer is dead and all we can do is translate literally (and then clean up the grammar and fix conjugations).

Why do we do this? You can never REALLY be sure what an author was trying to say (I am told all kinds of things I was trying to say that I don't even believe in...) so you have to work with exactly what you have. What is the difference when you write the story? You know what you meant to say in that other language, and you will still know what you meant to say in this one.

Bardos
December 13th, 2004, 05:29 PM
Thanks for your answers so far! :)